The Books

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A Private War

Marie Colvin and Other Tales of Heroes, Scoundrels, and Renegades

Now a major motion picture starring Rosamund Pike, Stanley Tucci, and Jamie Dornan

In February 2012, Marie Colvin crossed into Syria on the back of a motorcycle. A veteran war correspondent known for her fearlessness, outspokenness, and signature eye patch, she was defying a government decree preventing journalists from entering the country. Accompanied by photographer Paul Conroy, she was determined to report on the Syrian civil war, adding to a long list of conflicts she had covered, including those in Egypt, Chechnya, Kosovo, and Libya. She had witnessed grenade attacks, saved more than one thousand women and children in an East Timor war zone when she refused to stop reporting until they were evacuated, and even interviewed Muammar Qaddafi. But she had no idea that the story she was looking for in Syria would be her last, culminating in the explosion of an improvised device that sent shock waves across the world.

In A Private War, Marie Brenner brilliantly chronicles the last days and hours of Colvin’s life, moment by moment, to share the story of a remarkable life lived on the front lines. This collection also includes Brenner’s classic encounters with Donald Trump, Roy Cohn, Malala Yousafzai, Richard Jewell, and others.

Reviews

The Best Books of the Week

No News Can Be Good News


Apples and Oranges

My Brother and me, Lost and Found

To be sure, some brothers and sisters have relationships that are easy. But oh, some relationships can be fraught. Confusing, too: How can two people share the same parents and turn out to be entirely different?

Marie Brenner's brother, Carl—yin to her yang, red state to her blue state—lived in Texas and in the apple country of Washington state, cultivating his orchards, polishing his guns, and (no doubt causing their grandfather Isidor to turn in his grave) attending church, while Marie, a world-class journalist and bestselling author, led a sophisticated life among the "New York libs" her brother loathed.

From their earliest days there was a gulf between them, well documented in testy letters and telling photos: "I am a textbook younger child . . . training as bête noir to my brother," Brenner writes. "He's barely six years old and has already developed the Carl Look. It's the expression that the rabbit gets in Watership Down when it goes tharn, freezes in the light."

After many years apart, a medical crisis pushed them back into each other's lives. Marie temporarily abandoned her job at Vanity Fair magazine, her friends, and her husband to try to help her brother. Except that Carl fought her every step of the way. "I told you to stay away from the apple country," he barked when she showed up. And, "Don't tell anyone out here you're from New York City. They'll get the wrong idea."

As usual, Marie—a reporter who has exposed big Tobacco scandals and Enron—irritated her brother and ignored his orders. She trained her formidable investigative skills on finding treatments to help her brother medically. And she dug into the past of the brilliant and contentious Brenner family, seeking in that complicated story a cure, too, for what ailed her relationship with Carl. If only they could find common ground, she reasoned, all would be well.

Brothers and sisters, Apples and Oranges. Marie Brenner has written an extraordinary memoir—one that is heartbreakingly honest, funny and true. It's a book that even her brother could love.

A Top Ten Favorite Book of the Year
— MICHIKO KAKUTANI, THE NEW YORK TIMES

Great Dames

What i learned from older women

They are ten outstanding women of the century. Each had an aura, including Thelma Brenner, the first great dame her daughter ever knew. Their lives were both gloriously individual and yet somehow universal. They were mighty warriors and social leaders, women of aspiration who persevered. They lived through the Great Depression and a world war. Circumstances did not defeat them. They played on Broadway and in Washington. They had glamour, style, and intelligence. They dressed up the world. 

Fascinating, gossipy, entertaining. . . .
— New York Times Book Review
An engrossing introduction to a way of life that’s now extinct, for better or for worse.
— Chicago Sun-Times

Other Titles by Marie Brenner

House of Dreams: The Bingham Family of Louisville

Intimate Distance

Going Hollywood: An insider's look at power and pretense in the movie business

Tell Me Everything